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Four Common Toddler Parenting Fails

Four Common Toddler Parenting Fails

As a mom who had two under 2 (or two children within two years), I’m preparing myself for the quickly approaching day when I have two toddlers.

Keeping up with one toddler has been a handful, so two will be a challenge, but there are some lessons I have learned with my first son that will make this second time different.

Here are four common parenting “fails” that I seemed to make again and again with my first son and that I plan to (hopefully) avoid this go around.

Four Common Toddler Parenting Fails

1. Underestimating the Time It Takes to Get a Toddler Ready to Go Anywhere.

If you have a child, then you most certainly have been late to a rendezvous before. In fact, I could safely bet that you’ve been late to an important event or appointment.

And yet, if you’re anything like me, then you’re always cutting “get ready” time in the hopes that you can throw everyone in the car and conduct diaper changes in what seems like a more reasonable amount of time.

Do you really need to set aside 45 minutes just to get yourself and your toddler out the door for that doctor’s appointment? Yes, yes you do—at least if you want to get anywhere even close to on-time.

2. Failing to Spend Quality Time With Your Spouse.

Speaking of time management, I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize how difficult it is to prioritize one’s marriage with all the time and energy it takes to raise small children.

Toddlers love to be the center of attention, they require a high degree of hands-on care, and it becomes almost natural for everything to revolve around the toddler.

Often, we may not even realize the deficit of one-on-one time and adult conversation until we are asked to recall the last time we had conversations about topics that interested us pre-children. My husband and I often find ourselves discussing our children’s latest accomplishments or brainstorming what to do about the newest ill behavior they’ve picked up, even while on date nights.

If you’re a parent—especially a busy toddler parent—you’ve probably gone longer than you would suppose without having the kinds of deep discussions with your partner that you used to enjoy pre-kids. It’s easier said than done, but the simple remedy is to intentionally set aside time to discuss important non-parenting topics or interests that brought you and your partner together, safeguarding opportunities for quality time that build you up as an individual, spouse, and, consequently, as a parent.

3. Assuming an Adult Reference or Behavior Will Go Over Your Toddler’s Head.

Your toddler may speak mostly in gibberish, and you may think that he is far too young to care about the swear word in your favorite country song or the adult jokes in the mostly harmless Netflix series you’re watching, and you may be correct. Toddlers probably are too young to understand the adult content, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t repeat it.

Speaking from personal experience, if there’s a part of a show or song you’d like your child not to repeat, that is the part he will repeat. If a toddler can make a mess, he will create a disaster; if he can repeat what he should not and what will elicit a reaction from you, he will. Young children seem to have a sixth sense letting them intuitively pick up on what you don’t want them to dwell on.

And if you’re thinking, “that’ll never happen to me and my kid,” well, I’ve yet to meet parents who cannot name at least one thing that they wish their child had not picked up either from them or from entertainment.

The only plus side to this parenting “oops”? You usually have a pretty funny story to go with it.

4. Reading Too Many Parenting Lists on the Internet.

Of course, some parenting advice lists are a helpful reality-check (and I hope you enjoy the one you’re currently reading), but overreading parenting advice online can invite unhealthy comparison. It’s easy to start thinking that we are doing something wrong just because we’re not following the latest parenting technique or trend.

A better method to glean advice—regarding raising toddlers or any age group—is to rely on parental figures in our own lives whom we look up to (such as a grandparent, parent, or mentor), with consultation from sources unafraid to look beyond mere trendy narratives (such as Intellectual Takeout), where parents won’t be told what to think, but given much to think about.

Image credit: Unsplash

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Rebekah Bills
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9 Comments

  • Avatar
    Cadence McManimon
    April 2, 2024, 1:45 pm

    I have two toddlers and number three due soon–and it takes us at least thirty minutes to get out the door! New parents should be given a heads up about this fact of life. ;p

    REPLY
    • Rebekah Bills
      Rebekah Bills@Cadence McManimon
      April 3, 2024, 7:53 pm

      Yes! Sometimes it might take 10 min to get a toddler out the door, but more often than not it will take 30+ min, especially if it’s winter and getting coats & hats on is involved.

      REPLY
    • Rebekah Bills
      Rebekah Bills@Cadence McManimon
      April 3, 2024, 7:54 pm

      And hey, you’ve got it down faster than I average!

      REPLY
  • Avatar
    Kathleen Molloy
    April 2, 2024, 8:10 pm

    Sound advice on all points! Being deliberate about spending quality time with your spouse is invaluable for a thriving relationship but is easy to miss when parenting wee ones. Great reminder!

    REPLY
    • Rebekah Bills
      Rebekah Bills@Kathleen Molloy
      April 3, 2024, 7:56 pm

      It’s easier said than done, but far too important not to intentionally pursue that quality time with your spouse.

      REPLY
  • Avatar
    Jeff
    April 2, 2024, 8:32 pm

    Nice article Rebekah! Perfect for new parents.

    REPLY
    • Rebekah Bills
      Rebekah Bills@Jeff
      April 3, 2024, 7:56 pm

      Thank you, Jeff!

      REPLY
  • Avatar
    Cheryl Black
    April 3, 2024, 9:29 am

    Spot on! My husband and I still marvel at the impact of Shirley Temple’s sass in The Little Colonel on the sponge brain of our toddler. And our ‘date night’ was eking out ten minutes sans kids on the front porch…even that small focus on ‘us’ transformed the evenings. Toddler time is a blip but oh so formative! Enjoy the warmth of those days with all the sticky kisses and hugs:)

    REPLY
    • Rebekah Bills
      Rebekah Bills@Cheryl Black
      April 3, 2024, 8:01 pm

      It’s so funny to hear parents stories with regard to #3 on the list. “The impact of Shirley Temple’s sass”…I’m sure that was hilarious to witness (in retrospect, at least!)

      REPLY

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